AUBURN — The City Council was tasked Monday evening with prioritizing 11 recommendations listed in the Strategic Plan Committee’s report.

The plan, which was unveiled Aug. 18, 2019, and accepted by the previous City Council on Sept. 9, 2019, involved three committees and more than 100 people in its creation. It’s meant to guide the work of the Council and city staff. Those involved with it called it a “road map” for the future.

City Manager Peter Crichton and Assistant City Manager Phil Crowell told councilors that when departments start crafting their budgets, it would be helpful to know which five recommendations they considered most important.

“We can’t do everything and do it well,” Crichton said.

The Strategic Plan Committee made 11 recommendations:

• Working to protect and fully enjoy Auburn’s natural resources;

• Protecting Lake Auburn and all other bodies of water;

• Developing a downtown management district focusing on Great Falls Plaza, downtown and the Androscoggin River;

• Defining and promoting industry clusters;

• Addressing identified public service and infrastructure needs;

• Defining neighborhoods; supporting rehabilitation and beautification;

• Prioritizing transportation by using transit to connect people communities and employment and services;

• Improving image of schools and increasing commitment and value of education;

• Studying and planning to increase pedestrian environment to include connectivity;

• Establishing a citywide communications plan; and

• Investing in arts, history, culture, recreation and entertainment.

Crowell said follow-up meetings are set for Jan. 13 and 25.

In other business, the council agreed to look into creating a separate permit fee for agricultural buildings and barns.

Councilor Holly Lasagna said she recently met with a farm owner on North River Road who said the permit fee for a barn he is considering building would cost more than $5,000.

“He said that in Minot, the same building permit would be $800,” Lasagna said.

Eric J. Cousens, deputy director of economic and community development, explained that some municipalities, including Minot, have different permit fees for agricultural buildings and barns and for finished commercial buildings.

“The idea behind the lower permit fees for agricultural buildings is that it takes less time and energy to inspect them on the part of the city,” Cousens said.

Lasagna added that very few people ask for permits for agricultural buildings, and the city wouldn’t be losing “lots and lots of money” by asking for the change.

Mayor Jason Levesque said the idea of adding a permit fee category for agricultural buildings “excites me.”

“This is what we need to be competitive,” he added.

The council agreed to hold a workshop to look at how other municipalities address agricultural building permit fees.


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